Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and activated the Missouri National Guard to support the three agencies in charge of security in Ferguson; the Highway Patrol, St. Louis Metropolitan Police and St. Louis County Police.

Governor Jay Nixon (D)

Governor Jay Nixon (D)

“The National Guard is well-suited to provide security at command posts, fire stations and other locations, freeing up law enforcement officers to remain focused on community policing and protecting constitutional rights,” Nixon said.

Protest organizers reacted saying the moves send the wrong message and add to already heightened tension ahead of the grand jury releasing a decision whether to charge the officer that fatally shot Michael Brown. Others said the presence of the Guard lessens the chance that protests will be peaceful.

During a conference call with reporters from around the globe, Nixon stood by his actions.

“Everything we’re doing is being driven by the dual objectives, what I call the dual pillars: keeping the public safe while allowing protesters to speak,” Nixon said. “To achieve those goals, we need to be prepared … it also means that we have to have resources in place in advance of any announcement.”

Nixon said his actions don’t signal that he expects violence after the grand jury decision.

“This actually will allow St. Louis City, St. Louis County, the Highway Patrol, to have their folks out there in ways that are going to be reactive and interactive with folks so that they can facilitate peaceful interactions.”

Nixon would not reveal details of the Guard deployment, such as timing or how many troops would be involved.

He said he does not know when the grand jury’s decision will be released.